In an era where every sports arena in North America has a corporate name attached to it, Brian Maloney likes that Chilliwack is going against the grain.
No Quicken Loans Arena (Cleveland, Ohio), KFC Yum! Centre (Louisville, Kentucky) or Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium (Grand Chute Wisconsin).
And no more Prospera Centre.
We’re going back to the past with a retro-rebranding, and the rebirth of the Chilliwack Coliseum.
“I think the people of Chilliwack have a lot of fond memories of the old coliseum and the atmosphere that came along with it,” said Maloney, who captained the Chiefs in 1998-99 and appreciated the experience enough to have the captain’s dressing room stall from the old arena installed in his current office. “I had the pleasure of playing in that arena and that’s where it all started for me before I went off to school.
“We have a lot of the same fans around from when I played, and we’re hoping people jump on board with the renaming.”
Early reaction to the name change has been positive, but Maloney expects there will be some longtime fans who shake their fists at the new Coliseum and say, ‘There can only be one!’
“We brought that up a lot during these discussions, but when it comes down to it, we think of this as a tribute to the old Coliseum,” Maloney said. “When people come to the arena now, we want them to remember the old building, and we have plans to hopefully put pictures of the old Coliseum up around the place.”
Maloney, in fact, wants to go beyond pics of the former arena.
“I’ve got a huge soft spot for this community and I think there’s a lot of other great things going on Chilliwack outside of hockey,” he said. “If we can add pictures of our mountains and lakes and rivers and farmer fields — if we can get that Chilliwack vibe, that’s the idea and vision that I have and I think City Council is on board with that as well.
“Chilliwack is growing but it still has that small-town feel to it, and the new and old Coliseums are a huge part of that.”
Maloney’s primary day-to-day task is coaching a bunch of 16 to 20 year olds who have no concept about what the original Chilliwack Coliseum was.
The name change isn’t likely to resonate with his Chiefs, but that doesn’t mean there’s an opportunity for education.
“I do have current players asking about the old stall in my office and the pictures of the old Coliseum that I have on my walls, and I do tell stories,” he said. “I probably over-exaggerate on a lot of them, but I like reminding these young players about how hockey was played in Chilliwack.
“Maybe I’ll have to invite former Chief Chad Nelson, the father of our current Chief Clark Nelson, down to tell the boys some of his stories.”
l The Chiefs home opener is Sept. 20 versus the defending champ Prince George Spruce Kings.